By now, we have all seen small advertising posters hanging in the washrooms of our favorite bars, fitness clubs, and restaurants and maybe even our offices. Once you get over the idea that these ads might be a bit intrusive, what would you say are the sorts of ads that would work particularly well in a restroom? After you stop laughing you might think of products you generally associate with a bathroom like cleaning products, hand lotions, air fresheners or candles. What about products that are sold in the bar or restaurant where the bathroom is located like beer, liquor or soft drinks? Many people go into restrooms to freshen up – is it really a far-fetched to promote makeup, cologne, breath mints or hair products?
Excluding the occasional cougar, college kids and adults 50 plus don’t generally go to the same bars. And in most establishments there are separate restrooms for men and women. Yes, I am talking about segmenting by age group and gender. You could put an Old Spice cologne ad in one men’s room and an Axe body spray ad in another and thereby reach completely different demographic segments. Just such a tactic was used by Degree deodorant, which ran a sampling campaign in New York City fitness club locker rooms. Knowing that men between the ages of 21 and 54 frequent such establishments and presumably work up a healthy sweat it was a perfect opportunity to hand out free mini-deodorants. The indoor billboard poster had a dispenser right beneath a picture of some intense dude repelling from a helicopter who looked to be deep behind enemy lines with the Degree deodorant tag line featured prominently within.
If it works to get people to try out new products couldn’t it also work to remind people to wash their hands to protect them from getting the H1N1 Flu? How about a memorable Drunk Driving message located in a lively bar restroom? You can literally bring the message to people right when they are going to make a decision that can affect their health and safety. Maybe there is something to this place based advertising idea.
What if we think outside the frame and actually use the entire space of the restroom to convey a message? Imagine for a moment the fluorescent lit, all white, industrial motif standard restroom we all know and despise. Try to imagine that same bathroom cleaned till it sparkled, the cabinet replaced with a smooth black oak counter, a new white Italian marble vessel sink perched on top with high end Kohler fixtures and you will even notice that they have installed a Swedish self cleaning toilet. For a moment look down and see that the beat up linoleum tiles are gone and in their place are new black slate floors which continue all the way up the walls. The glaring bare fluorescent light has given way to a simple but elegant chandelier complete with energy efficient soft light bulbs by Sylvania. Imagine that there was one sign and it read “Remodeling provided by Home Depot.”
Wouldn’t that get your attention? Don’t you think everyone that enters that restroom is going to have a positive reaction and walk away impressed and changed? Weren’t they expecting the same old dirty, boring, utilitarian after thought? If Home Depot can make this place look good imagine what they can do for your home. Not only would Home Depot benefit from this transformation, but so would the establishment where the restroom is located and the long list of companies whose products have a chance to be experienced.
That is what I love about advertising, finding ways to connect brands with their target audience in a unique and overt way. It’s not the car ads convincing people they need to have their foot on an accelerator that goes from zero to 200 miles per hour in 3 seconds. It is not the played out beer ads continually connecting drinking their combination of water, barley, malt and yeast with airbrushed beautiful women. It is finding ways to surprise people by connecting on a deeper level and use the strengths of each media type whether it is bathrooms, network TV or tried and true home town newspapers. That is why after more than ten years I am still in the business and still so excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and have always been here.
Let me know great advertising ideas that you come up with, saw somewhere or heard about and I will chronicle my favorites and least favorites in exchange.